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Poems from Search Party

First night home


Despite the rain, like gravel, 

the gardensful of air hurled

at walls, forced down the brickwind

instrument of the chimney, 

this house will not crumble. 


We know this, yet we quail - 

for we have brought home fear

all bundled. And only 

this aching, anchoring

vigilance for a shield. 


On a new one-way system

as if the whole earth had been greased

some great agreement reached

as if this were a reasonable exchange

for speed, such breeziness

as if we could be suited to a world

with nothing oncoming

could be trusted to a sphere

where one cannot stop

as if we were a river


As when, aged nine, not really

thinking, I dived beneath

the three-quarters unfurled

tarpaulin of a swimming pool

and, short of air, surfaced

to find between the water

and the covering only

the meagrest light, and gasped, 

grasping what nothing meant, 

and dived again, then mad-swam

and made it to the end, 

just, you might thing unharmed. 


Poems from Misadventure

​​​​Winter morning​​​

Shyly coated in greys, blacks, browns –
to keep us out of sight of the cold –​
we weren’t expecting this this morning: sun​

​​​and shadows, like a summer’s evening, like summer
teasing. And not quite under the shelter on
the northbound platform, an old man, the sun​​​​

behind him, just his crown ablaze; and heading
southbound, a woman inching ever nearer
the platform edge, the light a tear​

across her midriff, ribcage, shoulders, closer
and closer that dearest thing, completeness,
all her darkness light at the one time.​



For a bridge suicide

From four, six, eight feet, maybe even ten,
water’s a giving, all-embracing thing.​

Above that, it begins to darken, starts
to slap, to harden, till by fifty or sixty​

limbs get broken. Still, even at that height,
you feel if you just got your entry right​

you could elicit softness, could slip in...​

And yet, for all that, there's a point​

when water’s transformation is complete,
a point at which the whole of the earth’s surface​

is uniformly unforgiving. As
she neared the top of the bridge’s central stanchion​

this was the point she recognised. And let go​


Da capo

​"That's strange", I'll think, some afternoons

and make to turn off the bathroom light
I’m all but sure I’ve not left on,​

only to catch, for the umpteenth time,
the frosted windows splintering sunlight
like it’s hitting water, and stand –​

as one who needs reminding – stunned
how sometimes there’s just so much light,
and how it is I never learn.

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